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November 2010 Archive

MGIC Relaxes Guidelines
MGIC has increased acceptable debt-to-income ratios, decreased its required credit scores in some markets and eased up on its rules for construction transactions.

Fannie, Freddie move Forward with Florida Foreclosures
Mortgage behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have lifted their ban on selling foreclosed homes in Florida. But questions remain about the validity of property title and foreclosures already completed.

More Improvement for COFI
It was the fourth month in a row that the 11th District Cost of Funds Index moved lower.

More Net Worth Revisions at Ginnie
Additional revisions to net worth requirements have been issued by Ginnie Mae. The latest updates impact issuers of multifamily mortgage-backed securities.

Mortgage Firm Survives Failure of Bank Parent
A mortgage lender launched a year ago by an Arizona bank that has since failed has emerged as a subsidiary of another institution.

FHA to Lose Market Share in November
Business was barely changed for the second consecutive month at the nation's private mortgage insurers. With new government applications down by nearly a third last month compared to just a 3-percent decline in the private sector -- a shift in market share is likely during November. Meanwhile, defaults on privately insured loans eased.

Loans Tumble at FHLBs
Since peaking in 2008, total loans to members of the Federal Home Loan Bank system have fallen by nearly half. Competition from federal programs and problems with mortgage-backed securities helped pull down outstandings.

Foreclosure Attorney Tactics
Among the tactics used by foreclosure attorneys against mortgage servicers are Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, claims of Truth-in-Lending Act violations and allegations of inflated appraisals. Also working against servicers are the foreclosure affidavit scandal and the alleged recommendation by many servicing representatives that borrowers default on their loans in order to qualify for a loan modification.

MBS Litigation Ledger
The biggest names in mortgage lending are also the biggest defendants in a wave of mortgage-backed securities lawsuits. The cases, many class-action, are being filed by individual investors and insurance companies.

Fannie Clarifies Delivery of Repurchased Loans
In some cases, the Federal National Mortgage Association will purchase mortgages that have been repurchased by the seller. The government-controlled enterprise clarified its policy on such transactions.

Ginnie Touts Multifamily Milestone
Multifamily securities that are guaranteed by the Government National Mortgage Association have reached a milestone.

Growing Firm Acquiring $90 Million Portfolio
A portfolio of residential mortgages is trading hands for $90 million. The buyer is an investment firm positioned to become a top-10 subprime servicer and hungry for mortgage assets.

Servicers Fight R.I. Requirement
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Two mortgage servicers are fighting a requirement by a bankruptcy judge in Rhode Island to utilize a required loss-mitigation program before proceeding with foreclosure.

Mortgage Employment Index Off
More than a half million people worked in mortgage lending as of October 2005 -- the highest month on record. Five years later, fewer than half are left. Headcount in real estate finance fell by another thousand based on the Third-Quarter 2010 Mortgage Employment Index.

Third-Quarter 2010 Mortgage Employment Index

The Job Journal
Many current career opportunities tied to the mortgage industry are in servicing, and a recent report looks at compensation and experience requirements at some servicers. Other mortgage-related openings include jobs in outsourcing, appraising and reverse lending.

New Activity Lower
Fixed rates edged higher and a hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage was up 5 basis points. But the one-year ARM improved, as did the jumbo spread. New activity, meanwhile, was down for the second week in a row.

GMAC Mistakenly Emails Copy of Default Letter to 100s
A copy of a default notice on a particular property was mistakenly sent in an e-mail blast to hundreds of GMAC Mortgage LLC borrowers. Now the borrowers whose names were identified in the message are talking to an attorney.

GMAC Suspends Foreclosure Sales in Maine
Some delinquent borrowers in Maine whose loans have been foreclosed on by GMAC Mortgage LLC won't have to worry about eviction during the holidays as a result of a deal hammered out between the servicer and the state. As default notices against Maine borrowers have jumped at an unprecedented rate, the state hasn't ruled out joining a class action against GMAC.

Foreclosure Affidavits Slow Recovery
A pair of reports indicate the inventory of foreclosed homes has swelled and the real estate recovery has been delayed as a result of the foreclosure affidavit crisis. Another finding was that the Home Affordable Modification Program has failed to achieve its objective.

Servicer Cuts Jobs, Branch LOs Replaced
Layoffs at Ocwen Financial Corp.'s servicing unit topped the latest round of mortgage-related layoffs. A Tennessee bank is eliminating loan officers who originate from branches and directing the business to its phone and online originators, and Wells Fargo & Co. has been busy with layoffs. Hundreds of employees at a failed bank were not hired by the acquiring institution.

Mortgage Market Metrics Continue Deterioration
The share of borrowers who were refinancing moved lower for the second week in a row, as did the average loan amount and overall new activity. A rise in interest rates drove the deterioration.

Mortgage Market Index 250 for the week ended Nov. 24, 2010

Hirings in the Offing
A majority of recently surveyed hiring executives expect to add employees. Among sought-after recruits are big-producing originators, mortgage production personnel and mortgage compliance employees. Many of the surveyed executives noted a shortage of hiring prospects in underwriting.

Lawsuits Seek $2 Bil from Execs of Failed Banks
A wave of civil lawsuits targeting dozens of former executives and directors of failed banks has already begun. In all, the government hopes to recover $2 billion.

Lawsuit Alleges Wells Induced Defaults
A lawsuit filed against Wells Fargo claims that the mortgage servicer induced some borrowers to default on their mortgages in an effort to increase servicing fees. Attorneys in the case seek class-action certification.

Secondary Purchases Down at Fannie
Secondary marketing purchases at Fannie Mae fell, but so did delinquency.

Bank Earnings Lower, HEL Delinquency Higher
While late payments on home loans eked out a small improvement on a quarter-over-quarter basis at federally insured banks, home-equity delinquency jumped. But the year-over-year change was the exact opposite for both categories. Quarterly earnings, meanwhile, fell by a third, though income improved from a year ago.

Ginnie's Business Edges Higher
Business picked up at Ginnie Mae.

Delinquency Deterioration at Freddie
Delinquency on home loans rose for the first time since February at Freddie Mac. The rate on apartment loans has more than doubled over the past year.

Bank Merger Wagon Rolling
A Chinese investment firm received a nod from the Federal Reserve Board, while two Spanish companies have an interest in acquiring multiple Florida-based banks. Federal banking regulators have received almost 90 applications during the past three months for bank acquisitions.

Freddie Bumps Fees
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.'s seller-servicers will soon face higher delivery fees.

Delinquency Improvement Continues
During each of the last three quarters, residential defaults have declined. But the positive trend could easily reverse.

Firm Finds Warehouse Lines
A New Jersey firm is busy setting up warehouse lines-of-credit for mortgage bankers.

Redwood CEO Leading Effort to Revive MBS Market
The chief executive officer of Redwood Trust Inc. is courting Wall Street and Washington in a campaign to revive mortgage-backed securities. The company hopes to complete its second securitization in more than two years early in 2011 and already has nearly $300 million in mortgage to securitize.

Mortgage Fraud Case Activity Tumbles
After surging in the second quarter, mortgage fraud case activity sank based on the Third Quarter 2010 Mortgage Fraud Index from Mortgage Daily. The decline appears tied to reduced federal efforts.

Mortgage Graveyard Journal
A mortgage firm in Hawaii has ended up in bankruptcy, while bank failures in Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are expected to cause around $200 million in losses.

Fairway Sued by Lehman
Lehman Brothers Holdings has filed a federal lawsuit against Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. At issue are "material problems" on some of the loans acquired by Lehman -- which is seeking to force Fairway to repurchase the loans. Thousands of similar cases have been filed on behalf of Lehman.

Refi Leads to Mistaken BofA Foreclosure
An FHA loan that was paid off through a 2009 refinance with Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Corp. still showed as active on the books of the new servicer, Bank of America -- which mistakenly proceeded with a foreclosure. After the Missouri borrowers who own the home hired a lawyer, BofA halted the foreclosure, acknowledged its error and apologized.

Local Struggles for Community Banks
While several community banks in Indiana are considered weak, only one such institution in the state has failed since the start of the financial crisis. Small banks face unique challenges -- especially as their local borrowers struggle to make payments during the rough economy. One bank chief, however, speculates that the worst of the crisis has passed.

Citi Settles With Wells for Far Less than $60 Billion Sought
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When Wells Fargo & Co. stepped in and snatched up Charlotte-based Wachovia Corp., even as Citigroup Inc. had already reached a deal to acquire the failing bank, Citi sued seeking $60 billion in damages. The two companies have now agreed to a settlement for far less than originally sought.

2011 Conforming Limit Released
The conforming loan limit that is effective on Jan. 1, 2011, has been released.

Aurora Servicer Ratings Cut
Aurora Loan Services LLC had its servicer ratings cut as a result of deteriorating performance and an uncertain future. Further downgrades could be ahead.

Quarterly Refi Projection Slashed
The latest housing forecast has the nation's fourth-quarter refinance originations coming in $56 billion lower than last month's projection. The collective U.S. mortgage servicing portfolio continued to contract and is expected to decline further.

Secrets to Successful Origination
A survey of new borrowers on home loans offers some valuable insight about how loan originators can improve their business. Among the findings from the report were that new compliance requirements are making the loan process take longer, more applications are being submitted online and fewer borrowers ever meet their loan officers.

Repurchase Estimates Balloon as Litigation Grows
A government-sponsored enterprise -- the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis -- is suing several big banks over alleged misrepresentation on mortgage investments. Among the defendants named are Chase Mortgage, GMAC Mortgage and Wells Fargo. The latest lawsuit brings repurchases sought by the Federal Home Loan Bank System to nearly $20 billion, while potential repurchases from all pending litigation at the top 11 banks could reach or exceed $200 billion by some estimates. Meanwhile, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is looking at possible criminal action.

Refis Forecasted to Fall as Rates Escalate
Both government-sponsored housing enterprises predict a drop in refinance originations and an increase in the share of borrowers who opt for an adjustable rate. Refinances have already begun dragging down new business as rates lurch higher.

Mortgage Fraud Still a Problem
Among the findings from two mortgage fraud studies is that an increase in the risk of mortgage fraud was mostly due to a government refinance program and loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Another finding was that real-estate-owned sales represent more of a problem than short sales. Las Vegas and Nevada respectively represent the city and state with the highest risk of mortgage fraud.

Former HUD Official Convicted
A former high-ranking official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been convicted of misleading investors in a real estate project.

Delinquency Improvement is Sweeping
Seasonally adjusted residential delinquency declined 90 basis points, the government delinquency rate was 107 BPS better and the subprime rate improved 144 BPS. But the trade group that issued the good news is cautious about the outlook.

Phone Apps Proliferate
With the share of consumers who use mobile devices for financial transactions expected to exceed half within five years, financial services firms have been busy beefing up their applications for iPhones and other mobile devices. Also aggressively developing applications are real estate services firms.

Bad Week for Mortgage Market
Mortgage rates took a turn for the worse this week, dragging down refinance activity in the process. The jumbo spread, however, showed a small improvement.

Mortgage Market Index is 311 for the week ended Nov. 17, 2010
FHA Delinquency Down, HECM Originations Worse
Federal Housing Administration endorsements have fallen over the past year, with reverse mortgage production down by half. If new applications are any indication, overall government business could fall by another third this month. The latest FHA projection has annual business down by 9 percent in fiscal 2011. But the good news is that federally insured mortgages are performing better.

Foreclosures Lead Delinquency Higher
It was the second consecutive month that new defaults rose.

American Home Replaces CEO
The president and chief executive officer has been replaced at American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. The new leader was a senior executive at GMAC Mortgage.

Firm Plans New Hirings After Losing LOs
A California lender that markets government-insured mortgages to borrowers with credit scores below 640 recently lost more than a hundred loan originators because they didn't obtain licenses that are now required in the state. But that hasn't slowed growth plans at the firm, which has moved to a bigger location and expects to add 125 new employees.

MA Bank Commissioner Recruited for CFPA
Several individuals from Massachusetts have been recruited by the Barack Obama administration to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The latest recruit is the state's banking commissioner.

Oregon Brokers, Appraisers Exit
The housing crisis has cost the Oregon real estate industry many jobs, with the number of licensed mortgage brokers in the state falling by more than half since 2006. The number of appraiser apprentices has plummeted 71 percent during the past four years.

Secondary Buyers in Litigation with Texas
The State of Texas has a problem with two companies that are buying mortgages but waiting until closing to conduct due diligence -- leaving some individual mortgage sellers earning lower prices on the notes. But the two secondary buyers contend that discounts are in order when information initially provided by the seller -- like the payment history -- proves to be wrong. The firms have filed a lawsuit against the state, while Texas has countered with its own litigation.

Congressional Report Warns of Servicer Liability
A report from Congress warns of dire consequences for the U.S. housing market if servicers are unable to prove that the chain of title on a mortgage entitles them to foreclose. Servicers also face potential liability from investor litigation. Legislators have sent a request to the U.S. Department of Justice for an investigation into wrongdoing by servicers.

Banks Defend Servicing Practices
At a congressional hearing on foreclosures, the chief executive officer of JPMorgan & Co.'s mortgage business was interrupted during testimony and called a "liar." He was among several witnesses to discuss servicing practices.

Video of Senate Banking Committee hearing

Defaults Continue Decline
It has been nearly a year since monthly mortgage delinquency has risen.

LendingTree Acquiring $10 Billion Originator
A mortgage firm that has originated more than $10 billion in mortgages agreed to be acquired by LendingTree.

Trade Groups, Regulators Shuffle Executives
Recent executive activity at one mortgage trade group included the appointment of a new chairman, communications executive and technology vice president -- among several others. A banking association has a new chairman, while a former executive with Fannie Mae has joined a public policy research group. A recently passed law has two bank regulators busy filling mandated positions.

FHA DPA Losses Could Exceed $13 Billion
Losses on loans where the seller provided down payment assistance are ultimately expected to exceed $13 billion at the Federal Housing Administration. Had such programs been banned, FHA asserts, its capital reserve ratio would be in compliance with congressional mandates.

Biggest Reverse Lenders
While there is some jockeying going on between some of the smaller players, the biggest originator of government-insured reverse mortgages, as well as the biggest reverse wholesale lender, have held on to their titles for several months now.

Over 400 New Ohio Jobs at Chase
A new round of hirings in the Buckeye State bring to more than 400 the number of mortgage jobs being added by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Ohio.

Flagstar Unloads 70% of Nonperforming Mortgages
A huge sale of nonperforming first mortgages at Flagstar Bancorp Inc. reduced the company's nonperforming first liens by 70 percent.

Texas Servicer Consolidates Businesses
Two mortgage servicing companies under the same corporate umbrella have integrated operations. The combined organization is based in Texas -- like several other home-loan servicers.

Cutting Losses on Loan Defaults
A growing number of borrowers with negative equity are opting to abandon their mortgage obligations, though a Wharton professor has a possible solution for such strategic defaulters. But for those loans that cannot be saved, an expanding array of service providers promise to make the disposition process more efficient and less costly.

10 Million Foreclosures
By the time the current housing market downturn ends, 10 million foreclosures will have been completed, according to a lecturer from Harvard. He noted that while two-thirds of mortgages were originated by depository institutions in the 1980s, the share shifted by the 1990s to mortgage bankers who originated four-out-of-five mortgages but were "essentially" unregulated.

Mortgage Casualties Could Fall in 2010
Losses from the collapse of three banks on Friday are expected to exceed $0.2 billion. The number of federally insured banks to fail this year has already surpassed 2009's full-year tally. But a bigger decline in the number of non-bank mortgage-related failures and closings has made it possible that this year will see an overall decrease in mortgage-related casualties.

Hard-Money Lender Loses Lawsuits, Halts Business
By making commercial loans, one hard-money lender operating in the State of Washington has been able to skirt residential lending requirements. While state regulators suggest one tactic used by the lender is a scam, they have no jurisdiction to police it. But judges in two lawsuits have ruled in favor of the borrowers -- leading to a suspension of new business.

Banks Optimistic About GOP
WASHINGTON -- With Republicans soon to be in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, big banks -- which opposed much of the Democratic Congressional agenda these past two years -- could find a lot to like. Of particular interest is the implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The resolution of the two government-sponsored housing enterprises is also a high-profile issue.

Obama Selects Regulator for Fannie, Freddie
The Barack Obama administration has tapped a state bank commissioner to run the federal regulator that oversees more than $5 trillion in mortgages.

USAA Originations Strong
New mortgage business grew and the servicing portfolio jumped at USAA Federal Savings Bank.

Falling Refis Hurt Origination Forecast
Refinances are forecasted to account for a diminishing share of business next year, dragging down annual government originations by $22 billion and pulling down conventional volume by $176 billion.

National Media Spotlight on FL Foreclosure Cases
Jacksonville, Fla., has become the center of attention in the ongoing foreclosure affidavit scandal. All of the focus is on a small share of delinquent borrowers -- some who haven't made a payment in as many as three years.

Branch Networks Expand
With an eye on growing markets, mortgage branch networks are expanding at a healthy pace in states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. Along with the new branches come increased recruiting efforts.

Record Low Rates Drive Increase in Business
Fixed rates fell to record lows -- pushing new mortgage activity higher. But fixed rates might be higher in next week's reports.

Lenders One Lifts Loan Volume
Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative saw aggregate quarterly production jump by more than a third. While most of the business was conforming and government, the group reported some nonprime originations.

Citi Sells Big CRE Portfolio
Citigroup Inc.'s banking subsidiary has unloaded more than $1.4 billion in commercial mortgages. While the sale represents a success for Citi in cutting risky assets, it also represents an opportunity for a top-10 residential servicer.

Affidavits Cut Into Foreclosure Activity
Foreclosure activity eased last month as the foreclosure affidavit crisis slowed U.S. filings. The number of properties hit with a filing was almost identical to a year ago.


Business Better as Rates Retreat
Mortgage activity picked up this week as interest rates were lower. But jumbo mortgage prices worsened relative to conforming rates.

Mortgage Market Index is 311 for the week ended Nov. 10, 2010

FHA Program Could Solve PACE Issue
Issues raised on conventional mortgages because of controversial energy home loans might be solved through a new Federal Housing Administration program.

Bad News Continues for Commercial
While residential loan performance has been improving for most of this year, the picture is darker for loans secured by commercial real estate. Much of the problem appears concentrated in hotel loans, though several sectors have deteriorated. Two types of commercial mortgages, however, recorded an improvement.

Mortgage Licenses Granted, Terminated
The share of states implementing federal requirements for mortgage licenses has reached 100 percent. The number of U.S. loan originators being tracked exceeds 100,000. Several states have updated or clarified their licensing requirements, while one state has issued a black list. In addition to firms in New Jersey and Connecticut, 24 licensees in Pennsylvania recently faced license-related actions by state regulators.

Services Help Navigate Changing Secondary Market
As agency guidelines tighten and purchase requirements become more difficult, a growing number of service providers are helping mortgage bankers comply with a growing array of secondary marketing requirements. Even Fannie Mae is responding with new aids. Other offerings focus on transparency and clarity.

2011 Production Projected to Fall
Depending on who you ask, next year's residential originations could vary by $400 billion. But one thing the experts agree on is that business during 2011 will be worse than this year.

Reverse Production Weakens Further
The number of reverse mortgage originators has fallen more than 40 percent since last year, and the companies that are left are closing fewer loans. The monthly volume of government-insured reverse mortgages fell to its second-lowest level in more than two years.

Appraisal Business Insider
Two valuation firms have restructured operations, and several appraisal firms announced enhanced offerings and expanded client bases. A myriad of appraisal services being touted include some tied to reverse mortgages.

Class Action Seeks to Halt GMAC Foreclosures
PORTLAND, Maine -- Delinquent borrowers in Maine are seeking a foreclosure freeze for all mortgages serviced or owned by GMAC Mortgage and have filed a lawsuit in federal court. Attorneys for the plaintiffs seek class action certification.

Small Banks Tighten Underwriting
A recent restricting of underwriting standards on home loans has been concentrated at smaller banking institutions. Demand for residential loans and home-equity lines was down.

Ambac Files Bankruptcy
After first disclosing a possible bankruptcy five months ago, the parent of Ambac Assurance Corp. made it official.

Agency Guideline Updates
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have updated their seller-servicer guidelines and issued additional lender requirements for energy loans. Meanwhile, Ginnie Mae has added flexibility for issuing multiple issuer pools and has reduced processing times. Ginnie also has begun releasing its monthly disclosure files more than two weeks earlier than before.

GSEs Request Less from Treasury
While the U.S. Government's investments in the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. already exceeded $150 billion and will increase as a result of the latest quarterly losses -- the amount of capital being pumped into the two government-sponsored enterprises dropped 27 percent from the second quarter. A big improvement at one enterprise more than offset deterioration at the other.

Biggest U.S. Mortgage Lenders
Mortgage lenders are ranked based both on how many new loans they originate and how many loans they service. By those measures, the biggest originator of home loans is based on the West Coast, while the biggest mortgage servicer is based on the East Coast, according to the Third Quarter 2010 Mortgage Lender Ranking from Mortgage Daily.

CRE Originations Growing, Residential Strong
Residential loan volume this year doubled last year's level in one Florida region, while a one-million-loan milestone is expected soon at a Michigan-based lender. Production at all U.S. commercial mortgage lenders will likely exceed $90 billion this year, including more than $50 billion in multifamily originations.

Lender Exits Wholesale, Expands Branches
In addition to a credit union that was liquidated and four banks that failed, a lender based in North Carolina is shutting down its wholesale lending channel -- though the company is recruiting new retail branches.

Failed Bank Victim of Huge Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Friday's failure of Pierce Commercial Bank was, in part, the result of losses stemming from a $500 million mortgage fraud scheme, based on criminal and civil legal activity.

Failed Bank is Opportunity for WA Institution
TACOMA, Wash. -- The failure of a small bank in Tacoma presented an opportunity for another institution in a nearby town.

Business On the Decline at Ginnie
The Government National Mortgage Association reported that business continued to slide, while more recent data indicate that the deterioration continued into the next month.

Spike in Regulatory Actions Against Banks
Regulatory actions by one bank regulator have spiked compared to a year ago and were up nearly a third on a month-over-month basis. The increase spells trouble for some banks.

Judicial Foreclosures Hinder Florida Recovery
While California has begun to show signs of recovery, some of Florida's real estate markets have yet to reach a bottom. The disparity between the coastal counterparts can be traced to Florida's requirement that foreclosures go through its court system.

Mortgage Broker Jobs Jump
A monthly increase in the number of mortgage brokers was more than enough to offset a drop in the number of people working in real estate finance. The broader U.S. employment picture also improved.

Over 500 Jobs Lost from Foreclosure Crisis
A Florida law firm eliminated 560 jobs as a direct result of the foreclosure affidavit crisis.

Mortgage Media Spotlight
Ellie Mae, Wingspan Portfolio Advisors and Fairway Independent Mortgage all have one thing in common.

StrategicVantage boasts big-name clients

Record-Low ARMs; Fixed Rates Headed Down
Adjustable-rate mortgages fell to new record lows, and fixed rates are likely to do the same in next week's interest rate reports. Meanwhile, mortgage activity was softer this week, and the jumbo spread improved.

1.6 mil Consumer Bankruptcies Projected for 2010
A bankruptcy trade group estimates that 1.6 million consumer bankruptcies will be filed this year.

Solid Quarter at Ally
Quarterly mortgage originations leapt by more than half at Ally Financial Inc. as the home-loan business remained profitable. The mortgage servicing portfolio was higher.

FHA Servicer Alert
Mortgage firms that service government-insured mortgages face a number of possible actions if their foreclosure affidavits weren't prepared in accordance with government requirements.

Negative Equity a Drain on Economy
WASHINGTON -- Underwater borrowers who diligently make their payments before the due date won't benefit by refinancing to today's lower mortgage rates -- potentially robbing the economy for years to come of the surplus cash these borrowers would have with a lower payment on a refinanced loan. Another drain to the system is the lack of home-equity financing for borrowers with loan-to-values above 100 percent.

Success of Countrywide Acquisition Still an Unknown
Most of the delinquent mortgages at Bank of America Home Loans were originated by Countrywide Financial Corp. -- requiring the company to boost its default servicing force by 10,000 during the past two years. The unit has lost billions of dollars, and liability for litigation and repurchases remain. While it is still unclear whether the Countrywide acquisition was a success, the bank has not yet needed to write down its goodwill in the investment.

Jumbo Spread Improves
As rates climbed, it was the third consecutive week that new mortgage activity was lower. One positive development was the spread between jumbo mortgages and their conforming counterparts.

Mortgage Market Index is 298 for the week ended Nov. 3, 2010

Bank Executives Trade Employers
Recent bank appointments include a president, a chief credit officer and several other management positions. Bank of America Corp. picked up a former state attorney and a former federal attorney.

Originations, Headcount Up at MetLife
There was a small pickup in business at MetLife Bank, N.A., as the company grew its mortgage staff by more than 200. Reverse mortgage production was mixed as the average loan amount moved lower.

Citi Top HAMP Producer in September
Two mortgage servicers -- including the biggest U.S. servicer -- saw their active government modifications fall in September. CitiMortgage Inc. had the best results.

No Shortage of Secondary Investors
Secondary mortgage transactions continue to be strong, though the government has a big role in some of the deals. In all, nearly $3 billion in residential transactions and more than $6 billion in commercial real estate transactions were recently tracked.

More Lenders Lose FHA Approval
The Federal Housing Administration reported the latest round of mortgagees to either lose FHA approval or lose their direct endorsement authority.

PHH Doubles Third-Party Share
PHH Corp. reported an increase in quarterly mortgage production and sees business strengthening further. The company said that the share of its business coming from its wholesale and correspondent channels has doubled over the past year. PHH offered an interesting look into its cost and earnings per loan originated and serviced.

Regulator Subpoenas First Horizon
First Horizon has been subpoenaed over government-sponsored enterprise mortgage-backed securities.

Freddie Fires Florida Foreclosure Firm
A Florida law firm has been terminated by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. following an internal investigation.

Frozen HELOCs Generate Litigation
Faced with big declines in local markets, providers of home-equity lines-of-credit have been forced to reduce or close credit lines -- leading to litigation against the lenders. But some HELOC lenders have relied on the borrowers instead of the values, leaving credit lines intact even when values suggest otherwise.

Editorial: GSEs Should Be Fully Privatized
The Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. must be made to compete in the secondary mortgage market like every other private firm.

Execs Shuffled at Closing Service Providers
Executives from mortgage insurance firms, title insurance companies and other closing service providers have been busy positioning themselves at new firms that are eager to serve the mortgage industry. More than a dozen appointments have recently been made at mortgage service providers.

MTA Hits New Low, Headed Lower
It was another record-low for the Monthly Treasury Average, and next month looks like more of the same.

Mortgage Firms Recruit from Big Banks
New executives at seven small companies have come from Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. and two other companies as the smaller mortgage operations continue to grow.

Agency Issuance Lower, Though Freddie Higher
The total issuance of mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by the three government-controlled agencies eased last month, though year-over-year activity was stronger. But the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. saw an uptick in monthly activity.

Mortgage Firms Scooped Up by Financial Institutions
Financial institutions are still acquiring small mortgage banking firms. Other recent mortgage mergers and acquisitions involve a subprime servicer, a reverse mortgage company and two operations unloaded by GMAC.

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